With Nigeria winning against Iceland in their Group D encounter on Friday in Volgograd, Argentina can breathe easy for a while and still hope to make it to the knockout stages.
After a draw against Iceland in their opening fixture, Argentina again faltered against Croatia to drop three points as they lost 3-0 on Thursday. The runners-up of the previous edition are now in a precarious position to advance out of Group D after securing just one point from their first two games.
The ‘La Albiceleste’ desperately needed a favour from Nigeria to avoid a humiliating repeat of their 2002 campaign when they also went out at the group stage after being tipped as possible World Cup winners.
And the Super Eagles didn’t disappoint. After a quiet first half, Nigeria struck twice in the second half as Iceland defense finally started melting. Musa, who sat out in the first game against Croatia and came into the starting line-up in place of Alex Iwobi, scored the brace to become the first Nigerian to score at two World Cups.
The result may have given a slight boost to Argentina, but things have become little more complicated in the Group D as far as Round of 16 qualification is concerned.
With the last two games in Group D set to take place on Tuesday (26 June) at the same time, the standing in the group is still unclear. Only Croatia have been guaranteed a place in the next round, but it is yet to be decided whether they will advance as group toppers or not.
As far as Argentina is concerned, they will advance if they beat Nigeria and hope Iceland lose or draw against Croatia. This will get them to four points compared to Nigeria’s three points.
But if Iceland end up beating Croatia it will mean the debutantes will also end up on four points as Argentina and there will be a tie-breaker scenario.
How do the World Cup tie-breakers work?
- The team with the better goal difference will advance to thenext round. If both Argentina and Iceland finish with the same goal difference,then the team which scored more goals in the group stage will surge ahead.
- If the first two methods fail to break the tie, then there will only be two options left.
- First, the fair-play tiebreaker, which is the disciplinary records in the tournament, will decide the fate of the teams. While a yellow card takes one point off the team’s total, an indirect (as a result of two yellow cards) and a direct red card take off 3 and 4 points respectively. The team with the highest total points remaining will go ahead.
- If by any chance both the teams remain tied even after the fair-play tiebreaker, the only option left will be a random drawing. The team with the better luck will go forward and unfortunately the other team will have to bid farewell to the tournament.